Small Wars Journal
  • "In 1991 the Gulf War showed everyone how not to fight us, but the 2003 invasion of Iraq showed everybody how to fight us."
    -- David Kilcullen
  • “With no other security forces on hand, U.S. military was left to confront, almost alone, an Iraqi insurgency and a crime rate that grew worse throughout the year, waged in part by soldiers of the disbanded army and in part by criminals who were released from prison.”
    -- John Spratt
  • “For Dave Dilegge and Bill Nagle, founders and editors of Small Wars Journal. They gave the counterguerrilla underground a home, at a time when misguided leaders banned even the word ‘insurgency,’ though busily losing to one. Scholars, warriors, and agitators, Dave and Bill laid the foundation for battlefield success: our generation owes them a debt of gratitude.”
    -- David Kilcullen ('Counterinsugency' Dedication)
  • "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast."
    -- Old MOUT Adage
  • “It takes a brave man to be a coward in the Red Army.”
    -- Joseph Stalin

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Now available at Amazon - Blood and Concrete: 21st Century Conflict in Urban Centers and Megacities provides a foundation for understanding urban operations and sustaining urban warfare research. This Small Wars Journal (SWJ) Anthology documents over a decade of writings on urban conflict. In addition to essays originally published at SWJ it adds new content including an introduction by the editors, a preface on “Blood and Concrete” by David Kilcullen, a foreword "Urban Warfare Studies" by John Spencer, a postscript “Cities in the Crossfire: The Rise of Urban Violence” by Margarita Konaev, and an afterword “Urban Operations: Meeting Challenges, Seizing Opportunities, Improving the Approach” by Russell W. Glenn. These essays frame the discussion found in the collection’s remaining 49 chapters. Blood and Concrete continues the legacy of Small Was Journal's coverage of urban operations, conflict and combat. - Dave Dilegge, Robert J. Bunker, John P. Sullivan, and Alma Keshavarz, Editors.


The USNS Comfort arrives in New York Harbor to support national, state and local response to the coronavirus, March 30, 2020. The hospital ship will provide approximately 1,000 beds for urgent care patients not infected with the virus, relieving pressure on local hospital systems. Photo by Kenneth Wilsey, FEMA.

"Small wars are operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state whose government is unstable, inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of our Nation."

-- Small Wars Manual, 1940

Small Wars Journal publishes original works from authentic voices across the spectrum of stakeholders in small wars. We also link you to relevant goings on elsewhere.  Login with your SWJ Username to comment, or Register, it's free. You can start your own threads in the Small Wars Council discussion board, but note that the board requires a separate Council Username. Follow SWJ on Twitter @smallwars.

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by James T. Houser | Wed, 04/01/2020 - 3:21am | 0 comments
Sun Tzu’s injunction to “know your enemy” is never more critical than in counterinsurgency (COIN) warfare. During its COIN conflicts in the last hundred years, the United States military has fallen especially prey to the thinking trap of lumping all its opponents into the same category. COIN expert David Kilcullen identified this phenomenon as “accidental guerrilla syndrome” in his 2009 book of the same name.
by Andrew Watkins | Mon, 03/30/2020 - 9:09am | 0 comments
For years, the U.S. military pursued a "divide and defeat" strategy against the Afghan Taliban, attempting to exploit the supposedly fragmented nature of the group. Drawing on the academic literature on insurgency, civil war, and negotiated peace, this report finds that the Taliban is a far more cohesive organization than a fragmented one.
by W. R. Baker | Sun, 03/29/2020 - 1:26pm | 0 comments
While March 29th is National Vietnam War Veterans Day, the “official” federal remembrance day (August 18th in Australia and New Zealand), each of us who went to war will probably remember not only the date we left the United States and the date we returned, but also certain events in-between that occurred in the land which President Reagan called “…100 rice paddies and jungles in a place called Vietnam.”
by David Retherford | Sun, 03/29/2020 - 10:04am | 0 comments
Historical publications on pandemic disasters have generated considerable traction in the last few years, months, and just last week.
by Thomas M. Hill, by Nate Wilson | Sat, 03/28/2020 - 7:36pm | 0 comments
What’s next for Libya’s civil war and how can the U.N. and European Union (EU) play a constructive role in bringing the conflict to a close? USIP’s Nate Wilson and Thomas Hill discuss the EU’s effort to enforce an arms embargo, the impact of the conflict on Libyan society, Turkey’s involvement in Libya and more.
by Michael D. Phillips, by Thomas A. Drohan | Fri, 03/27/2020 - 11:16am | 0 comments
Warfare has become all-domain, all-effects, and all-information. This reality is well outside the conventional wisdom of a “threshold of armed conflict.” Operations in and across land, sea, air, space, and the electro-magnetic spectrum (cyber-plus) depend on information and more importantly, create information. Our combined arms approach to warfare focuses on operationalizing information. That is, using information to support all-domain operations. To win wars in the Information Age, we must complete the other half of the job: informatizing operations. That is, we need to use operations to create superior information effects.
by Scott Smith | Thu, 03/26/2020 - 9:37pm | 0 comments
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s effort this week to bring the parties together failed and led the U.S. to reduce aid to Afghanistan. Amid all this uncertainty, Afghanistan is beginning to see the signs of a coronavirus outbreak, which could devastate the country given its poor health infrastructure and pollution problems. USIP’s Scott Smith explains how the coronavirus could further exacerbates an already complex situation.
by Jonathan Pinckney, by Miranda Rivers | Wed, 03/25/2020 - 8:55pm | 0 comments
As the coronavirus has grown into a global pandemic, many movements that have relied on street protests have struggled to know how to respond. The evidence of a global slowdown in public protests is striking. As news of the virus spread and public health authorities began recommending a stop to public gatherings with large numbers of people in early March, the number of public protests around the world dropped precipitously.
by Rachel Vandenbrink | Wed, 03/25/2020 - 6:05am | 0 comments
China’s move to expel U.S. journalists from the country last week comes at a time of great need for accurate information about COVID-19. The move is part of a broader Chinese effort to control the global narrative about the pandemic and is especially dangerous right now—as cracking down on foreign media further undermines trust in China’s ability to respond to the pandemic with transparency.
by Jonathan F. Lancelot | Mon, 03/23/2020 - 7:03am | 0 comments
No generation on Earth currently has experienced any crisis event like the one we are living in today, just fantastic images from the imagination of screenwriters. This does not excuse the international community, economic institutions, and individual nation-state governments from being unprepared.

Blog Posts

by USNI News | Wed, 04/01/2020 - 6:25am | 0 comments
"The Taliban has shown no interest in cooperating with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to combat the COVID-19 pandemic spreading from Iran, creating the latest obstacle to peace, four regional experts said Monday."
by The Wall Street Journal | Wed, 04/01/2020 - 6:17am | 0 comments
"The Trump administration proposed that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro hand power to a transitional government in return for sanctions relief and other measures."
by Associated Press | Wed, 04/01/2020 - 5:01am | 0 comments
"The European Union announced Tuesday the launch of a new naval mission in the Mediterranean Sea aimed at enforcing the United Nations arms embargo on Libya, after Italy blocked a previous operation claiming that the warships attracted migrants to Europe’s shores."
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Wed, 04/01/2020 - 4:28am | 0 comments
"The UN Security Council has called on political rivals in Afghanistan to 'rally together' and finalize talks with the Taliban to help end the country’s long, costly war."
by Associated Press | Wed, 04/01/2020 - 3:58am | 0 comments
"The U.N. Security Council is urging Afghanistan’s warring parties to heed the U.N. secretary-general’s call for an immediate cease-fire to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure delivery of humanitarian aid throughout the country."
by Institute for the Study of War | Tue, 03/31/2020 - 5:56pm | 0 comments
"The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) deployed roughly a division (over 20,000 soldiers) to Greater Idlib Province between February 1 and March 31, 2020."
by CNN News | Tue, 03/31/2020 - 7:44am | 0 comments
"Some of the most critical US senior military commanders and nuclear and special operations forces are now operating under extraordinary protection measures to ensure that in the event of a sudden security crisis, including any potential nuclear mission, there will be enough healthy troops and leaders to carry out orders as the coronavirus pandemic grows."
by Voice of America | Tue, 03/31/2020 - 6:45am | 0 comments
"Lebanese activists and journalists say they fear the Hezbollah-led Cabinet could be using the COVID-19 pandemic as justification to further consolidate its power through targeting dissent."
by The Wall Street Journal | Tue, 03/31/2020 - 6:36am | 0 comments
"Saudi Arabia is in daily talks with Iran-aligned Houthi insurgents in Yemen and has invited Houthi representatives and the internationally recognized government in Yemen to peace talks in the kingdom, a senior Saudi official said."
by Voice of America | Tue, 03/31/2020 - 6:14am | 0 comments
"Colombia's left-wing National Liberation Army rebel group says it will observe a month-long unilateral cease-fire beginning Wednesday."
by Defense News | Mon, 03/30/2020 - 7:04pm | 0 comments
"The Pentagon has asked Congress to allow it to classify its Future Year Defense Program spending projections, new documents have revealed."
by Al-Monitor | Mon, 03/30/2020 - 10:20am | 0 comments
"Yemen’s warring parties have agreed to their first nationwide cease-fire in four years, part of an effort to fend off calamity should the war-ravaged nation controlled by rival governments be struck by the coronavirus pandemic."
by Military Times | Mon, 03/30/2020 - 8:48am | 0 comments
"All is not quiet in Europe. Especially on Ukraine’s eastern front, where Russians are attacking Ukraine forces on land, from the air and on the water, Ukraine military officials tell Military Times."
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Mon, 03/30/2020 - 12:08am | 0 comments
"The Afghan government has slammed the Taliban after the militant group rejected Kabul's negotiating team for upcoming intra-Afghan peace talks aimed at ending the nearly 19-year war."
by Associated Press | Sun, 03/29/2020 - 9:12pm | 0 comments
"The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq withdrew Sunday from a military base in the country’s north that nearly launched Washington into an open war with neighboring Iran. The K1 Air Base is the third site coalition forces have left this month, in line with U.S. plans to consolidate its troops in two locations in Iraq."